Beverly Smith calls Virtue and Moir the best in the world and tells us why
Of course the ice dance segment of the team competition is this weekend, so this accomplishes precisely nothing.
This article implicitly takes down Davis and White - but fails to mention Davis and White. Why?
Figure skating is a competitive sport. The Olympics are NOW. It's not performance art. It's not an evening of dance vignettes. It's not apples to oranges. It's apples to apples - the skating skills and dancing of this team verus that team for the Olympic championship.
There is no reason for this article to exist other than to take down Davis and White, but apparently if you mention their names in conjunction with criticism the ISU strips your credentials and you're banned from the sport. Has to be. In ladies singles the ladies are compared CONSTANTLY. Pairs, the same. Men as well. Just not the top two in dance. One cannot notice that Davis and White are being rewarded for flaunting the sport's own rules and standards, and for skating with inferior, dumbed down technique. One can only point out all that Virtue and Moir are doing and pretend everybody knows what you're really saying. But you're not allowed to really say it.
If you're not going to really say it, what is the point?
So what is it that they do so well that makes them the best ice dance team in the world, perhaps of all time (Robin Cousins once compared them to Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.) Well, the way their bodies move, for one thing. They stretch their bodies. One canny expert explains that they straighten their knees and point their toes, they extend their necks upward, they open their chests, using their entire bodies to interpret music. Virtue in particular has a very mobile torso and they both arch their backs to create shapes, and they involve their hips and shoulders like no one else to produce movement that the style and rhythm of dance commands. Their movement is beautifully coordinated. They complete their movements, with extended legs and arms. The tension in their bodies’ changes as the music dictates. The tension is never static.
The foxtrot of the short dance this season calls for a sway – and they have a gorgeous sway – and the rise and fall of a soft knee. Says Ann Shaw, guru of international ice dance: “You’re supposed to have an elegant look, and use your knees in the foxtrot and have a syncopation of approach. [In the quickstep] they have an elegant upright, light airy look, and they have the best interpretation of the rhythms required of anybody this year. They interpret the quickstep and foxtrot like nobody else does.”
Speed? It’s supposed to come from rhythmic knee action, since the rules specifically discourage excessive amounts of toe steps. This is no problem for Virtue and Moir, because, Shaw says, they are the most powerful skaters in the world. Speed is just the velocity across the ice, no matter how you get there. It is not the same as power. Some are fooled by speed, but how is it generated? Virtue and Moir have a hidden power, that comes from deep knee bends, and it allows them to float across the ice. Their stroking is so smooth and well-matched, that it appears effortless.
Is there a LAW somewhere that says one can't say the names of Davis and White, can't point out that they DON'T do these things? That the excessive toe action and two-footing that enables speed without glide and big curves is discouraged by the rules, not meant to be rewarded by the rules with record-shattering scores?
It is COMPETITION. Why are Virtue and Moir's competition not mentioned in this article?
Every single point loudly and implicitly tells us that Charlie and Meryl do NOT do what Virtue and Moir do, that everything they do is dumbed down and inferior.
What use is implication? WHY is it against the political law to CALL OUT MERYL AND CHARLIE.
Smith here cites unattributed experts and attributed experts, she speaks from an informed perspective, she understands the sport, she understands the rules, but she will not mention that Meryl and Charlie have been rewarded this year, and most assuredly this weekend, and next week, for skating that is manifestly, by the rules, inferior to Scott and Tessa's.
What’s more, Virtue and Moir can vary their speed and change direction seamlessly – important in the transitions category of the program component mark and also the choreography category to some extent. They can slow to a stop, and then regain top speed in three or four strokes. The variation of speed allows for the shades and light of interpretation. They change dance holds frequently, easily, eschewing the same-direction skating that is so much easier. “Their movement from one hold to another is just like little rose petals unfolding,” Shaw said. “It’s superb. They skate in close relation all the time. But you are never aware that they are changing hold. They sort of fold into each other – and I think that is superior to anybody.”
Footwork? Virtue and Moir have challenging footwork with big curves. The size of the curve that a skater’s edge creates is important, and never more so than in footwork sequences. Virtue and Moir trace huge arcs with their edges both into and out of their turns. They have dainty, precise feet.
Lifts? From a young age, when Virtue and Moir began to learn more difficult lifts, Virtue was taught to feel like she was doing the lift herself, rather than the male partner forcing the woman somewhere and the women reacts. “She moves herself from one position to another and she doesn’t wait for Scott to move her,” says Marijane Stong, known for her knowledge of dance, music, and costuming. “That was when she was quite young and she has maintained that. Ballet dancers don’t wait for the man to put them somewhere.”
In other words, Virtue has an ability to manage her own body in the lifts. Rather than Moir supporting Virtue, there are fewer points of contact between them during a lift, and Virtue extends her own free leg, without help from the partner. The positions in their lifts require a lot of strength in Virtue’s core and hips and back. Their style of stroking also is taxing on the legs, knees and thighs. This team is physically strong.
This is a waste of time. Everybody knows Virtue and Moir can do these things. Nobody is calling out that Davis & White DON'T do these things. The sport didn't hesitate to call out Plushenko's deficiencies in 2010 - the lack of transitions, the posing, the absence of non-jump content. They didn't just hype Lysacek - they went after Plushenko, specifically. Frank Carroll pointed out he saw a lot of jumps in Plushenko's programs and not much else - that was his reaction to the scores.
How come only in ice dance has everybody been silenced about Meryl and Charlie? Beverly Smith giving more support to Tessa and Scott than they've bothered to generate for themselves is pointless when the scoring is all "Us too - PLUS" for Davis and White. The only value in this type of deconstruction is to point out what Davis and White are NOT doing and ask why they're scored as if they are. And even in Canada, one dares not say.
Every word of this has Davis and White between the lines. Every syllable. Yet Smith won't or dares not come out and say it.
Moreover, it's only days before the first event. Why did she wait this long?
I'm just amazed, amazed, that someone in the skating world is bringing all of this up but failing to mention Davis and White and only getting specific about Virtue and Moir's superiority when it's too late.